Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An anecdotal weather ... thingamajig

I often have insomnia which cuts the center out of my night, and last night was one of those. I was up at 3AM, net surfing, drinking a protein shake, reading, wandering, tripping over cats who always think "The hooman finally gets it!  This is prime activity time!"

So there was my weather widget up in the corner of my google page.  It told me that the current temperature was 70 degrees (f).

That widget has been wacko before. It can pull the wrong data for a location.

I've also blogged about how hot it can get year round here in coastal SC.

But....but....!!  [sputter sputter] ....I never.....

Not at 3 AM.  Not in the middle of the night the day before Thanksgiving.  I went to weather dot com and got the US map and was so amazed that I took a screenshot.  Zoom it and you can see the time of night,  "3:15 EST"  at the bottom of the map.

This is just creepy.  When the temp does not fall below 70 degrees at night, that's in, like, July/Aug, when we're having 90s during the day.

We've got a holiday and guests coming in tonight and I can't give any kind of time to research right now, but I did a cursory search for record night temperatures in SC.  I can't say that this doesn't happen regularly.  I coulda' missed it.

Unfortunately, nobody cares about records on the warmest nights, only the coldest.  They love to tell you how hot it got on a particular day and how low it dropped at night, but the dilemma of how to research "how low it did NOT drop" is something I can't devote time to today!

Just know that even for hot and muggy SC, where we get odd shorts-weather days in every month of the year .... 70 degrees f, deep in the night, on 11-23,  crossed the line into being kinda disturbing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

OK, the zoom is mindblowing

My new camera offers  - it says on the case -  a "4x optical zoom."  That's one reason I picked it over another similar PowerShot that had only the same 3.5 zoom that my old one had.

So I'm standing around taking outdoor pictures a couple days ago.....

.... and I noticed people out in the marsh oystering, which they do at low tide.  I thought I'd see if the 4x got enough detail to show what's going on out there.  I hit the zoom lever and it crept up to 4x, then hesitated.  Before I could think to let go of the lever, it started up again and kept zooming until the display told me it was giving me 16x.

I.  am.  in.  awe.
Here's another one.  From this:


My happiness level with the new PowerShot is increasing.  A lot.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My little love and I

 I love it. I'm keeping it.

My beloved camera is what I'm talking about.  My dear 2004 Canon PowerShot.  Heavy as a hand grenade, took great pictures in its prime.  It's having trouble now.  Every shoot has more unusable shots.

In each shoot, more turn out like this.

So I had to get another camera, and I went with another PowerShot since I liked the last one so much.  Below are a few from the first batch of photos. 

Good, because I could get a photo when I tried to get a photo.  Not good, in that I'm not happy with them.  I was hoping the old Canon would last until I could get a true upgrade, but it wasn't meant to be.

Still, taking pictures is fun again.

The first photo, of course, had to be of The Boss.

Oysters in the creek at low tide.  This one's OK.

Gone to seed

Fun book!

If you have to go away...I'll leave your shoes beside the bed.

Several of these were taken at Dad's house.

About 4:30 PM, sun sinking, golden fall marsh and flag on 11-11.  This is the only one that turned out as nice as I'd hoped.

The grocery store didn't charge me for either of these 2 little potted mums, since they were nearly dead.  One has succumbed but the other is reviving.

And maybe I'll gain mastery over the settings on this camera and get sharper images.  If all else fails, I can read the manual!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

There are things I will never understand

A 2008 photo from the start of the development.  These are 200-year-old live oak trees, destroyed.  Then the real estate crash halted the project until this year (2011)

The  development across our town highway is back in gear.

In 2008, a different developer had Big Plans, and cleared and paved it.  Then 2008 happened and he tanked.  Another developer bought it from him recently and the voice of the buzz saw now echoes through the land.

As I've mentioned before, there's a strip of woodland between us and that highway.

The new developer is building houses along that strip of land, above where I put the Wi-Fi sign, and wants to do clearing about where I've placed the "Woods" label

So the doorbell rings.

"I'm here to offer the services of the developer.  He'd like his residents to have a view of the marsh, and he's offering to clean out that tangle of vines and growth and brush on your lot, at his expense."

Understandable from his point of view, but no, no, a thousand times NO.

To be polite, I went out there and let him show me what the developer was talking about, and it would really be carefully done, and would not hurt any trees.

Just one problem though.  That wood, with its impenetrable wild tangle, is ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN US AND STATE PARK CAMPER INCURSION.  It is also all that stands between us and the endless endless road noise.

He could not get it.  He could not comprehend what I was saying.  Clearing the marsh end of that wood, so it's still a wood, but more manicured and park-like, would put traffic and its noise right in our eyes and ears.  It barely dulls the noise now.

A lovely clear view for the buyers of those houses, through our wood to the marsh, would mean a hideous clear view in the other direction, for us, of their houses, and the cars whooshing by. Tree trunks, no matter how many, won't help.

"But it's a trashy mess" was his, and I'm sure, many peoples' feelings about wild undergrowth. He really thought the appearance was not only bad, but that the buffering ability was irrelevant to living here.

People often say "I can't understand his point of view," when what they really mean is "I disagree with it," but this is a case in which I really mean it;

I can't understand people who think that woods are ugly;  that nature is too messy.  That wildness is  visually unappealing and needs to be neatened up.

Are we really the same species?  Do others really not see the beauty in those brambles and wildflowers?  Or at least see the value they have as a border to an estuary?

I want to leave this house, this precarious location, so badly, it's not funny.  9 years ago, it was such a gift to be able to stay here and reduce our debts, and have the woods around us.  Not anymore.  I want out.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Third grade - peace, love, commas

My elementary school, photo taken 1999.

Writer Natalie Goldberg has advice for writers and blogger Xtreme English posted a passage from it, which included some writing exercises.  And THANK YOU, XE, it's wonderful advice, plus it got me started on one of Goldberg's exercises; to write everything you remember about third grade.

Third grade for me was the 1962-3 school year, and my first thought about the Goldberg exercise was that third grade was a big nothing.  Any interesting events, any particularly good or bad teachers, came in other years, so Third was notable for not being notable.

About 18 years ago, when I was in a writers' group, I wrote a nostalgic essay about 1964. I posted it to this blog (wow. 4 years ago!).  It's here if you want to read it (or read it again) but I never felt happy with it, and later, realized it was not only kind of substandard, but actually inaccurate.

I certainly wrote it honestly --  i.e., that was how i remembered things -- but that memory of 1964 being the last serene summer before awful life events changed our world was false. In fact, Sally and Patsy's father died in the same fall of 1963 that Kennedy was shot, and that next summer was about trying to regain "back to normal" feelings like we'd had before, not a time of still having them for real.

The calm year, the real last-year-of-innocence, was third grade, fall 1962 through spring 63.

Nostalgic visit to the primary-grades building, 1999. The 3rd grade wing is behind me, up the hill.  That hill was much higher in 1962.

Third Grade was a big rite of passage at my elementary school, because we moved up the hill.  The school sat along a hilltop that looked enormous to me then. Grades 3-6 were all in one L-shaped building, with the primary grade building beneath and behind it, down a hillside flight of stairs.  Of course we hiked up and down the concrete steps to library and cafeteria sessions, but our home base as 1st and 2nd graders was the bright little-kid-oriented rooms.

When I walked into my assigned Third Grade room, I got a clear message that sunny Primary life was over and we were getting down to serious business. Intimidating maps and historic portraits on the wall portended demanding studies.  No more bright paint.  No long wall was devoted to a window looking out at the leafy world.  Upper class schoolroom windows started at the shoulder height of taller kids. Rows of worn readers that we were expected to use for self-improvement when we finished an assignment with time left, and sets of occasional-use books ("Now, would Ricky and Karen please pass out the music books?") filled shelves underneath it.  My class met in a blue-gray room that sun rarely touched.

And this year, we'd get grades.  Not just checkmarks in Fair, Good, Swell categories, accompanied by narrative about our effort and attitude, but A, B, C ... and other, unthinkable letters. The year started, as they all did to some degree, with stomach-knot anxiety about what would be demanded of me.

And, as they all did, it turned out to be just more school. We had a nice enough teacher and a year without drama.  I got good reports at the first two quarters.  I felt more relieved than proud, or even interested. An achievement ethic wasn't in me yet.

Which is why, at the third quarter report, I was stunned to see straight A's down the column.

I hadn't tried for those, or any, grades.  I worked because it was assigned, though I put more into it when the task interested me.  I thought of report cards much the way I thought of bubble gum fortunes.  You opened the paper, you saw what had been declared for you.

I wasn't much into thinking ahead. This was the year I put a leftover half of a peanut butter sandwich in the back of my desk and forgot about it until clean-out day before Christmas break.  It was barely recognizable, stuck to its wax paper with green mold.

But third grade was the year of punctuation.  I mean, serious punctuation; quotation marks, complex sentences with commas.

I hung onto every word.  This was something I wanted. These were the writer's tools for expression and clarity.  I might not have mastered clarity yet, but I got pretty good at commas.

In fourth grade, big things happened, in the neighborhood and in the world, but in third, September to June ambled through their mundane lessons and vacations and seasons.  It was the last year of my unshaken life.  After my friend's father committed suicide that fall, and the President was shot and killed, the world never again seemed trustworthy, but in Third I had the tranquility to let me take an interest in a subject for its own sake.  Which was pretty cool.